Hyatt v. Dudas (Fed. Cir. 2008)
Gilbert Hyatt has been famous for his early microprocessor patents. This appeal "concerns the patentability of approximately 2,400 claims in twelve related patent applications … that claim priority … to the early 1980s or before." Since being filed, all twelve applications have also been "amended to add hundreds of claims that were not included in the original applications."
The PTO examiner rejected all the claims in all twelve applications – most commonly for lacking proper written description. On appeal, the BPAI refused to independently review each of Hyatt's claims, and instead only considered the twenty-one claims that he had discussed in the "Summary of the Invention" section of the BPAI briefs. Appealing that decision, Hyatt convinced the DC district court that the BPAI had improperly selected the representative claims. The PTO now appeals that district court decision.
On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed – finding that the BPAI cannot create a representative claim by simply grouping all claims rejected for lacking written description under the same "ground of rejection" "unless the claims share a common limitation that lacks written description support." 37 CFR 1.192(c)(7).
"[T]he applicant can waive appeal of a ground of rejection, and can waive the right to demand additional subgrouping of claims within a given appealed ground. But the applicant cannot waive the Board's obligation to select and consider at least one representative claim for each properly defined ground of rejection appealed."
Affirmed. On remand, the BPAI must consider "all grounds of rejection challenged by Hyatt. . . However, the Board is free on remand to apply the rule of waiver to any grounds of rejection not contested by Hyatt in his initial appeals to the Board, provided that such grounds do not become relevant on remand due to realignment of the representative claims or other aspects not previously at issue."
- 2400 claiming priority thirty years back…